India’s Indigenous Naval Powers Are Strategically Fleeting

Deep Sea Technologies are the need of the hour and India is working towards it with diligence. Some of India’s latest innovations in maritime defense have made India’s navy a force to reckon with. The country sees a huge export potential in its advanced simulators. Self reliance in defense is key to rise as a superpower and India’s Navy is assiduously carving a niche for itself. The advancements also promise great defense export potential for the nation. The newly indigenously developed simulators comprise of an Advanced Combat Management System and a Maritime Domain Awareness Lab. India is focusing on training the new generation of mariners. As ports are digitalized, major curriculum reforms in naval studies is underway. Top Navy officials have proposed a unique amalgam of deep tech and space tech. Extensive Artificial Intelligence workshops are happening on all the INS’s and AI awareness is being promoted amongst the young trainees as well as senior officers. 

At the helm of these new initiatives are engineers, scientists and researchers from Ministry of Defence, Defence Research & Development Organization(DRDO), Indian Institute of Technology(IIT’s), CSIR (Council for scientific & Industrial Research and Indian Space & Research Organization(ISRO). Also, there are special initiatives to have more women in this domain. The importance of the newly developed Integrated Simulator Complex (ISC) at Kochi’s Southern Naval Command as these simulators will augment naval tactics and will bolster fleet & navigation operations. There will also be knowledge & technology sharing with friendly nations. Of all these simulators, the important ones are the MSSHS (Multi-Station Handling Simulator), ADHCS (Air Direction & Helicopter Control Simulator and the Astronavigation Dome. 

A New Delhi based company has produced the simulators and now they are being exported to 15+ countries. The astronavigation dome has been developed by a Bangalore based company which is the 1st ever dome in the Navy. The ADHCS has been developed by the Institute for Systems Studies and Analysis, a DRDO laboratory and is capable of providing real-time operational environmental circumstances. Other new additions are a maritime domain awareness lab and a combat management system.

India wants to have modern warships, loaded with modern equipment & technology. “Magnetic Compasses, Lifebuoys, sextants and gas carriers must be of latest technology in all warships,” says a senior defense journalist. India is investing in research and development as it has eyes firmly set on the defence & technology export spectrum. The Tapas Male UAV is DRDO’s product which some months back flew from a ground station called Chitradurga. In a recent test run the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle flew for 3.5 hours and the ship controlled the UAV for 40 minutes. When the flight started Subhadra was 150 km far from the Karwar Naval base. Earlier this month Varunastra, which is a wire-guided heavyweight log range torpedo was testfired. Varunastra can hit sub surface platforms. It has active & passive acoustic homing with NAVIC satellite guidance. With a weight of 1500 KG, a warhead of 250KG, it can go upto 600 Metres deep and its max speed is 42 knots and range is 40 kilometres. The wire guided long-range heavyweight torpedo has been successfully testfired by the DRDO and the Indian Navy. Varunastra can target sub-surface platforms like submarines with wire-guidance, active/passive acoustic homing, GPS or indigenous NavIC satellite guidance.

The Indian Navy plans to acquire supersonic guided rockets capable of destroying enemy submarines at a 150 kilometers range from the shore. The system shall be developed under the ‘Make II’ category in India.  These will have the potency to destroy any enemy submarine within a range of 150 kilometers from the Indian shores.

The K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile has completed the development stage and seems ready to get inducted but DRDO is still designing the 5,000km-range submarine-launched platform which  matches the Agni V, a surface-to-surface missile. Once ready, these 5000km range submarine launched ballistic missiles will carry the same K-series label and will cover all of Asia, parts of Africa, Europe and Indo-Pacific including South China Sea. Testing of the 3,500km-range K-4 missile has been satisfactory and is now fully developed with certain variables. It may soon be inducted on the INS Arihant class of nuclear submarines. 

This solid fuelled K-4 is a 3 metre tall missile with a perfect accuracy within 100 metres of its over one tonne nuclear warhead. Recently, two tests were conducted using underwater pontoon off the coast of Vizag on India’s eastern seaboard. Presently, INS Arihant carries a B-05 nuclear missile which has a range of 750km. Now the K-15 categorization has become a thing of the past.

Reports have suggested that the DRDO has been working on a 5,000km-range ballistic missile and is keen to join the elite club of US, Russia and Chinese nuclear submarines. This missile will match Agni-V in caliber & range and promises a compelling destruction capacity. However, as of now there has been no official confirmation on the same.

Has the hypersonic Shaurya Missile been already inducted and the Nirbhay Missile has already been deployed near LAC even before official induction? Yes, India has recently approved the induction & deployment of Shaurya – the 700km range surface-to-surface hypersonic strategic missile. The 800-km range subsonic Nirbhay cruise missile will be tested soon and get inducted into Indian Army and Navy. A limited number of Nirbhay missiles have already been deployed in response to China’s build-up in Tibet and Xinjiang.

India’s leading maritime educational institutes are promoting a slew of career options among the new generation. Today’s young Indian Navy cadets find themselves surrounded by various scientists, working engineers, professionals, PhD holders and researchers from distinguished organizations and institutes. Women are playing a pivotal role in these new age naval developments. The thinking behind the endeavor is that “Our attempt should be such that we must not just empower women through science but also by the valuable contribution of women to this field.”

India’s Defense Minister inaugurated the Integrated Simulator Complex (ISC) ‘Dhruv’ at Kochi’s Southern Naval Command in June 2023. The ISC ‘Dhruv’ is house to modern state-of-the-art indigenously created simulators that will significantly augment standards of practical training in the Navy. These simulators are designed and developed to provide real-time experience on navigation, fleet operations and advanced naval tactics. The simulators will also be utilised for training of navy personnel from India’s friendly nations.

The ADHCS – which has been developed by DRDO’s Institute for Systems Studies and Analysis, shall provide accurate operational environment scenario to naval trainees. These technologically advanced simulators are indicative of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative and also promise a huge defense export potential for the country. Some of the other indigenously developed simulators in this complex include the ‘Combat Management System’ and the sophisticated ‘Maritime Domain Awareness Lab.’

Earlier this year, the Tapas Male UAV flew from Chitradurga under the control of a ground station, while INS Subhadra was 148 kilometers away from the Karwar naval base where control was transferred to  Subhadra. The ship controlled the UAV for approximately 40 minutes in a 3 and half hour flight. Also, the Varunastra Wire guided long-range heavyweight torpedo has been successfully test-fired by the DRDO and Indian Navy.

The much talked about K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile has completed the development stage and looks pretty much ready to get inducted,  but sources claim that DRDO is still designing the 5,000km-range submarine-launched platform which  matches the Agni V, a surface-to-surface missile.

Once ready, these 5000km range submarine launched ballistic missiles will carry the same K-series label and will cover all of Asia, parts of Africa, Europe and Indo-Pacific including the South China Sea. Testing of the 3,500km-range K-4 missile has been satisfactory and is now fully developed with certain variables. It may soon be inducted on the INS Arihant class of nuclear submarines. This solid fuelled K-4 is a 3 meter tall missile with a perfect accuracy within hundred meters of its over one tonne nuclear warhead. This year, two tests were conducted using underwater pontoon off the coast of India’s eastern seaboard in Vizag. At present, INS Arihant carries a B-05 nuclear missile which has a range of 750km. Now the K-15 categorization has become a thing of the past.

India has recently approved the induction & deployment of Shaurya – the 700km range surface-to-surface hypersonic strategic missile. The 800-km range subsonic Nirbhay cruise missile will be tested soon and get inducted into the Indian Army and Navy once the tests are successful. A limited number of Nirbhay missiles have already been deployed in reply to China’s build-up in Tibet and Xinjiang.

While it stands true that no navy has grown so rapidly in the last 200 years as the Chinese Navy as they have added 80 ships to their navy in the last 5 years. Since 15 years now, there has been a steady presence of China’s Navy in the Indian Ocean region which the designation of an ‘Anti-Piracy Escort Force.’ Their 31st anti-piracy escort force stands vigilant in the Gulf of Aden. China commissioned its first overseas facility in Djibouti around two and a half years ago. The declared motive of Bejing’s deployment is to protect its trade from piracy in the region. 

On a regular basis, India conducts coordinated patrols and maritime exercises with foreign navies including those of Indian Ocean’s island countries. India has been steadily upping its diplomatic engagement with IOR countries, and under the Indo-Pacific and advocates a rules-based approach in the region. 

The 5,000km-range submarine-launched ballistic missile, a mega milestone if achieved will carry the K-series label and will cover all of Asia, parts of Africa, Europe and Indo-Pacific including South China Sea, if inducted. After testing the 3,500km-range K-4 missile the weapon is now fully developed with fixed parameters and seems ready to be installed on the INS Arihant class of nuclear submarines. The solid fuelled K-4 is a three-metre tall missile with accuracy within 100 meters of its over one tonne nuclear warhead. Both tests were conducted using underwater pontoon off the coast of India’s eastern seaboard in Vizag. At present, INS Arihant carries the B-05 nuclear missile which has a range of 750km, with the K-15 categorization being made outmoded.

Indian scientists have been focusing on a 5,000km-range ballistic missile in a bid to join the elite club of US, Russia and Chinese nuclear submarines. According to experts, this missile will match Agni-V in range with a potent destruction capacity. Though India’s Government has iterated that currently it has no plans to develop any other longer-range missile as the 5,000km range will act as a deterrent to all its adversaries in Asia and beyond. 

In another major development, India is all set clear the acquisition of 10 P-8Is Anti-Sub Aircraft in a USD 3.1- billion deal with the US to acquire maritime aircraft for the Navy to heighten its surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region. The procurement of 10 Boeing P8I maritime patrol aircraft may be soon cleared, with the contract being processed under the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) route.

The deal is said to include the compulsory clause for a minimum of 30% offsets to Indian companies, and if inked it will add further to the 12 P8I aircrafts that have already been ordered by India and will help keep a hawk’s eye over a region that has seen increasing deployment by the China’s Navy. The specialized maritime patrol aircraft, which helps track and hunt down enemy submarines with lightweight torpedoes and in-built depth charges, are also operated by US and Australian navies, which at present operate in coordination with India to keep track of ship movements.

Trustworthy sources say that the Indian Navy is keen to build up a fleet of 22 of these aircraft at the earliest and the contract will ensure a continuous supply over the next four years as older maritime reconnaissance assets (Russian origin) retire. In 2009, the first batch of 8 aircrafts were ordered under a USD 2.1-dollar billion deal and a follow on order for 4 was placed in the year 2016.

Aware of the fact that Pakistan’s Navy had a sizeable stock of Chinese mines – Circa 1971 and one of PNS Ghazi’s main tasks was to mine India’s Vishakhapatnam harbor. But this isn’t a major concern for India because of the exponential strides it is making in AI and procurement of state-of-the-art naval technologies from friendly nations like France and Germany will help bridge this gap in prudent fashion – believe experts.

[Indian Navy, via Wikimedia Commons]

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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